Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivation
By Rachael Tate
In Drucker’s book on management he states that “Making a living is no longer enough. Work also has to make a life” (1974, p. 170). This statement relates to a generation where work life and personal life were kept separate. Most employees would work for money and go home. There was no intrinsic motivation to work any harder than needed and for many years organisations would reward their staff with monetary bonuses such as increased salaries and benefits. These are known as extrinsic rewards. Today, contemporary organisations are beginning to change the workplace by implementing intrinsic rewards to increase motivation. Studies show that intrinsic rewards could be the beginning of a new management era and that they should be incorporated into the common management style in the 21st century. This essay defines intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and provides ‘real world’ examples of the benefits they reap when introduced.
Intrinsic motivation has been described in many ways. Amabile, Hill, Hennessey, and Tighe (1994) describe it as “the motivation to engage in work primarily for its own sake, because the work itself is interesting, engaging, or in some way satisfying” (p. 950). According to Ryan and Deci (2000) intrinsic motivation refers to “doing something because it is inherently interesting or enjoyable” (p. 55). Pink (2009) defines intrinsic rewards as encompassing three components: Autonomy (the need to direct your own life), Mastery (desiring to get better at something you’re passionate about) and purpose (the longing to be a part of something bigger and better). When all an employer wants from an employee is compliance, the traditional concepts of management will work. In the case that the employer seeks engagement, self-direction is more motivating. Amabile (1996), a professor at Harvard Business School, asserts that “Without intrinsic motivation, an individual will either not perform the activity at all, or will do it in a way that simply satisfies the extrinsic goals” (p. 7). This statement supports that for an employee to be engaged in what they are doing and satisfied doing it, intrinsic motivators are required. If your employees are only completing the tasks given to them because you are motivating them with extrinsic rewards, it can be expected that when you take the reward away, they will no longer be motivated to complete the work.
Extrinsic motivation has been defined as “Doing something because it leads to a separable outcome” (Ryan & Deci, 2000) or “the motivation to work primarily in response to something apart from the work itself” (Amabile et al., 1994). An example of an extrinsic reward is when an organisation motivates their workers to perform by rewarding them with money, such as bonuses, increased salaries, stock options or benefits. These rewards are easy to monitor as they stem from results. If an employee is following the organisational procedures and adhering to the rules, the manager can reward. If not, there will be no reward. It’s a very common motivator for organisations as it’s easy to manage. They don’t have to think about how the employee feels or if he/she is passionate about their job.
It made sense for extrinsic motivators to work in older generations. Most employees had one job to do, with a simple set of tasks. For example, a bookkeeper’s job was to record all financial transactions in relevant journals, creating profit and loss statements balance sheets etc. They were assigned to those exact tasks. Today, we have programs like MYOB that does all of that work for us. We are no longer working in organisations where our jobs are routine. Our work has become more complex and more interesting. Workers today are looking for ways to use their minds and to be involved in bigger things than just monotonous tasks. Time magazine published an article stating that “They...
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